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Consider these examples:

  1. There’s a wind blowing through here tonight.
  2. A wind is a current of air that is moving across the earth's surface.
  3. Open the doors, I want to get a breeze.

Why do we use the indefinite article with the nouns “wind”, and “breeze” in such cases? I mean we are talking about wind and breeze in general, and if we’re talking about something in general we are not required to use the indefinite article:

  • Turn on the faucet, I want to get water. (=water in general; then why do we say “I want to get a breeze”?)

Note: I am still looking forward to getting a satisfactory answer.

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    I would say that we're not really talking about wind or breeze in general in these examples. There isn't "wind in general" blowing through here tonight, there is one specific wind (the one that's blowing through here tonight). – stangdon Jan 21 at 17:34
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    @strangdon We say: “there’s blood coming out from his forehead” (= blood in general; no indefinite article), in the same way, shouldn’t it just be “there’s wind (= wind in general) blowing through here tonight”, & “I want to get wind/breeze”; why do we need the indefinite article? – Ayden Ferguson Jan 21 at 19:22
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    "Blood" is uncountable, but "wind" and "breeze" are countable. There are dozens of names for winds that blow through specific regions. There are 105 instances of the plural form winds in this article nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/wind/…. – Mari-Lou A Jan 24 at 13:12
  • @Mari-LouA Wind, or breeze is typically used sort of uncountably. It's not technically uncountable, but it's not super common to pluralize it. – Ayden Ferguson Jan 24 at 13:48
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    @Ayden There’s plenty of sentences that use the definite article with these terms: “We were shooting the breeze earlier.” “The wind was really loud last night; I had trouble falling asleep.” “We took the top off the car so we could feel the wind in our hair.” “It was hot and sunny but the breeze from the lake kept us cool.” Or pluralize them: “The winds of change are blowing.” Even in your “I want to get water” example, the parallel would use the definite article: “Open the door, I want to feel the breeze.” – Rivers McForge Jan 24 at 18:03
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Open the doors, I want to get a breeze.

The meaning of breeze has a lot of aspects that make it work as an itemizable, separable "thing":

  • breezes can have a start location and an end location

  • breezes have a direction

  • breezes can have a start time and an end time

Because of the above, it's possible to ask the question "which breeze" - and because of that, an article or determiner is needed.

The fact that a person uses an article with a noun reveals they are using a mental model of things or have assumptions where "which X" is possible and where you might be expected to know which X (and in that case the is used) or where you might not be expected to know which X (and in that case a/an is used).

There’s a wind blowing through here tonight.

How could the question "which wind" matter? One possible and likely reason is that some days the wind exists, and others the wind does not exist, and the speaker/writer is thinking of these as separate "things". It's also possible that sometimes the wind blows through "here", and other times it blows through other places, henceforth a demarcation of splitting the wind up into unique "instances".

There’s wind blowing through here tonight.

So usually when the article is not used, the notion of the type of something is more important than the instance of something. In this case the implication is we care about the "type of weather" happening--it's blowing wind versus snowing, or raining, etc.

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  • +1 Good answer. I have a doubt, when you say “an instance of wind”, did you mean “an occasion of wind”? – Ayden Ferguson Jan 22 at 4:18
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    Occasion is really just saying there's an instance of something over some period of time. So yes. – LawrenceC Jan 22 at 19:06
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You want a "satisfactory answer," but do not indicate what would satisfy you. Thus, I am going to stab a guess and take a very different approach from the other answer and comments. I don't know any strict grammar rules but will go by what naturally occurs to me as a native English-speaker and also native Pennsylvania German speaker, both languages of which use the same rules when talking about wind or a wind.

It depends on the situation regarding whether one says "a wind" or "the wind" or just "wind." You provide three examples:

  1. There’s a wind blowing through here tonight.
  2. A wind is a current of air that is moving across the earth's surface.
  3. Open the doors, I want to get a breeze.

I'll omit Sample 2 because my scientific knowledge is not good enough to deal with it. Samples 1 and 3 are very familiar situations in my life so I'll deal with them.

There’s a wind blowing through here tonight.

That's just the way we say it. One might also say, "There's wind blowing through here tonight." Or "The wind is blowing through here tonight." I don't think one is more correct than the other.

Let's discuss which would be more likely to be used when. I will envision a hot muggy summer evening and a group of friends sitting in lawn chairs in someone's backyard chatting about whatever is on their minds when someone observes, "There's a wind blowing through here tonight."

It's just a natural normal wind that cools the air and everyone is grateful for it.

Now let's imagine that instead, the person had observed that, "The wind is blowing through here."

That's still the natural normal wind that cools the air and everyone is grateful for it, but they are surprised that it blows through there. They had imagined that the location was too sheltered to get much breeze or wind. But it wasn't. Nice surprise.

But the other one, "There's wind blowing through here tonight" might mean puzzlement. Is there something wrong that causes wind to blow through here? For example, maybe there's a huge generator fan with an open door or window where there shouldn't be. That would be a different kind of wind from the natural normal wind discussed above. Might be time for someone to check things out.

Then again, if nothing appears to be ammiss, possibly that was just this person's way of noting that the wind was blowing through there. I personally don't know of any hard and fast grammar rules about this.

Open the doors, I want to get a breeze.

This time I envision a stuffy indoor situation. It would not sound right to say, "I want to get breeze." That would immediately mark a person as a non-native English-speaker. It would be okay to say, "There's a breeze out there. I can see the trees moving. Open the doors. I want to feel the breeze in here, too." When the doors are open, one might say, "It's breezy in here."

One can also say "Breezes are blowing across the meadows." However, if you want to talk about the summer breezes or the drying breezes, you need the definite article. Also for just one breeze--however that is determined, one must say "a breeze" or "the breeze."

Again, this is just the way we talk. Maybe there are no grammar rules to explain it, except for the singular and plural of breeze(s). I'm not sure where to look.

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According to the Cambridge dictionary, wind can be both countable and uncountable, but breeze is only countable. Water is uncountable only.

A singular countable noun needs a determiner, for example a, the or some. An uncountable noun does not need a determiner, though in some circumstances a determiner can be used, for example we can refer to a particular type of cheese as a cheese, or to a specific piece of cheese as the cheese.

Here is your third example sentence, compared with the one in the question that followed it:

Open the doors, I want to get a breeze. - breeze is countable - determiner required
Turn on the faucet, I want to get water - water is uncountable - determiner not required

Note that, because breeze is countable, you cannot say

Open the doors, I want to get breeze. -incorrect - no determiner

but you can say

Open the doors, I want to get the breeze.
Open the doors, I want to get some breeze.

Moving on to the wind example sentences, remember that wind can be countable or uncountable. We generally treat it as uncountable when we are talking about wind as general concept:

wind is caused by the movement of air over the surface of the earth

When we talk about one particular type of wind, we use the determiner a:

It is difficult to cross the bay when there is a north wind

When we talk about one instance of wind, we treat is as countable, and use a determiner- a for a non-specific wind, and the for a specific wind, for example the wind that is blowing now:

A wind is a current of air that is moving across the earth's surface
There’s a wind blowing through here tonight.
The wind is blowing through here tonight.
The wind is messing up my hair

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